The Cost of Repointing Brickwork

All you need to know about repointing brickwork including costs of materials, labour and time frames.

The Cost Of Repointing a Brick Wall

What the job entails

With every brick built home, there will come a time when the mortar between the bricks will need repointing. This may seem like a trivial problem, but don't underestimate the importance of pointing. The mortar can account for as much as 15 percent of the overall surface area of brickwork and has a huge impact on the quality and safety of the wall. The mortar also acts as the walls primary defence against water ingress, so is a critical aspect of the property structure. Mortar does not just hold the bricks together in a wall, it fills in any irregularities on the faces of the bricks and plays an important part in the house construction. Being softer than bricks, the mortar will at some point begin to show signs of ageing due to the weathering. But this is actually supposed to happen by design, the mortar takes the brunt of weathering rather than the bricks, but this eroding means portions of the wall will need to be repointed at some point, which can be expensive.

This job will basically entail cleaning the wall and removing all the old crumbling mortar, then applying new mortar into the gaps, then removing any excess and finishing the job off. This is not the most complicated job in the world, but it is very time-consuming. The first step is to inspect the wall for potential trouble spots, then clear old mortar from the joints working from top to bottom, next mix the new mortar ensuring it is not too hard. Before the new mortar can be pressed into the joints the wall needs to be sprayed with water as dry walls can suck the moisture from the mortar causing cracking. Now the repointing work can begin with packing plenty of mortar into the joints and ensuring there are no gaps or air pockets. Most professionals will work a few rows at a time and then smooth off the mortar with various tools depending on the type of finish required.

There are some related jobs that should be considered alongside this one, as it will usually work out cheaper to have other work done at the same time, especially if you need scaffolding for the repointing and this can be used for other jobs such as replacing tiles, fixing chimneys, or replacing fascia or soffit boards etc.

Repointing can be done as a DIY project as long as you have the time and patience to do the job properly. But safety is paramount, so do not attempt to carry out repointing using a ladder, proper scaffolding or a working platform will be required when carrying out this type of work at height. In addition, it is crucial that the right type of mortar is used, if unsure about any aspect of repointing you should always seek professional advice. Even if you are confident you can carry out the work, it is worth getting a surveyor in to assess the wall and offer advice on how much repointing is required, or even whether to remove the old mortar at all - some professionals will advise leaving the old mortar alone unless it is causing structural problems!

One of the main issues that can happen, particularly with older properties, is where they have been incorrectly repointed using a cement mortar, which effectively smothers the building, rather than a traditional lime mortar that would allow it to breathe.

The Cost of having Brickwork Repointed

The average material cost to repoint brickwork will depend on the size of the area you need repointing. Materials will include the replacement mortar and potentially scaffolding to reach the upper floors.

The average brickie will usually charge around £150 per day in labour costs and will usually work by themselves or in a pair. The time it takes to complete the job will depend on how much repointing is required, in terms of the amount of bricks and how badly they need repointing. You should expect a cost of around £3500 to repoint an average 3-bed semi-detached house.

Below are some estimated costs of repointing a wall.

Job Description Avg. Cost Duration
Repointing a wall (Per Square Metre) £20-£30 1-2 days
Repointing front or side of a house £1000-£1200 5-7 days
Repointing a semi-detached house £2500-£3000 12-16 days


Cost Breakdown

Individual Costs for repointing an average sized 3-bed semi-detached house - Total Cost: £3000

10%

Materials & Waste
£300

65%

Tradesmen
£1950

25%

Scaffolding
£750

FAQ's

Repointing done properly is meant to last as long as 50 years or more. Professional repointing work almost guarantees the long life of the mortar joint and the wall.
If the mortar starts to soften or crumble, then it is a sign that the wall will need re-pointing. In addition, if your walls are also damp this could be because moisture is leaking into the wall due to the damaged mortar. In any case, early re-pointing work can eliminate further damage and save money in the long run.
This completely depends on the size of the job. If you think you may need repointing done, get a professional in to survey the structure to find out how much work will be required.
No, if you notice crumbling or damp mortar then it is best to get the re-pointing work done as soon as possible to prevent further damage and even more costs. As long as it is not raining and the temperature is above freezing then the work can be carried out.
Cement is a binder that holds other materials together and it is the mix of other materials that will determine the final product. Concrete is an aggregate of sand or gravel, cement, and water, with the aggregate making up over 60% of the mix. Though mortar is also a mixture of water, sand, and cement, the water to cement ratio is much higher and when mixed, mortar is a much thicker substance than concrete.
Last century building techniques were very different and traditional properties need to breathe to allow the moisture to evaporate from the external stonework or render. Older buildings were not constructed with a damp proof course and were made from materials such as brick, cob and stone - all of which are relatively porous. Lime mortar is a relatively softer mortar and able to withstand more movement without cracking and is porous so allows moisture to evaporate.
Cement mortar is usually harder and less porous than lime mortar. Therefore when movement occurs the mortar will often crack. Hard cement mortar will also trap moisture causing damage to the structure over time and encouraging groundwater to rise up by capillary action in a solid wall.